The 2022 National Senior Games presented by Humana started at a walking pace yesterday, but it’s not just any kind of walking that makes for a competitive sport.
Traditional race walkers heard the first gun for 1500-meter competition at the Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar, followed by a wave of athletes competing in the new sport of power walking. What’s the difference between the two?
Both walking forms require that one foot must be on the ground at all times, and the foot must strike from heel to toe.
Race Walk is an Olympic sport which has a technical element requiring the lead leg to remain straight from heel-strike until the knee passes under the body. This is what results in the unusual hip motions that characterize the look of the event. However, a bent knee is the accepted form in power walking and the race walk element is not allowed.
Nationals Leading the Way Introducing Power Walk as a Medal Sport
Power Walk was never a competitive sport until NSGA joined with the US Powerwalking Association in 2018 to establish sanctioning rules, and the first national competition ever held was at the 2019 National Senior Games in Albuquerque. “There were two good reasons to introduce the new sport,” explained NSGA Media Director and power walker Del Moon. “First, it’s an accessible entry sport for people like me with limited competitive sport experience. But it’s also a great way for aging race walkers to stay in the game because some find it increasingly difficult with time to execute the technical elements and they get disqualified. Now, they have something very similar to transition to.”
Ageility, one of the partners supporting the 2022 Games, recognized the potential for power walking and selected a resident from a Five Star Senior Living community in Deerfield Beach, Florida, to assign their trainers to learn and compete in The Games. Hugh “Mac” McCaffrey made his debut in the 75-79 age division and said the whole experience has been an eye-opener. “I regularly do Tai Chi, but power walking is now also a way for me to stay in shape,” the retired former 911 operator said.
Clara Satterfield, Oldest Female Power Walk Athlete, Competes in First National Senior Games with her Daughter
As Clara Satterfield, 95, arrived to check in for her Power Walk event, a pair of onlookers couldn’t help but whisper in awe. We caught up with Clara and her daughter and fellow senior athlete, Evelyn Wilson, for a few minutes in the stands before Clara hit the track for her first National Senior Games competition.
The South Carolina athletes draw inspiration from Clara’s son (Evelyn’s brother) who is a dedicated masters athlete. After attending and qualifying at the senior games in Georgia, Clara was motivated to excel at the 2022 National Senior Games presented by Humana in Fort Lauderdale and trained five days a week. It paid off – she earned gold and lowered her blood pressure!
Evelyn has experience competing in previous National Senior Games that she will pass along to her mother for this event. Both competed in the 1500M Power Walk on May 10, and will be back at Ansin Sports Complex later for the 50M dash.
Evelyn’s final words of encouragement for her mother before Clara’s competition were, “Walk your walk.” We think this won’t be the last time you see this sweet and strong mother/daughter at the National Senior Games!
Team Marcela Celebrates Mother’s Day at The Games
The pride and love Marcela Nieto’s children feel for her is palpable. When they found out Marcela’s 2022 National Senior Games Powerwalk competition would fall on the same day as Mexican Mother’s Day, May 10, they sprung into action to arrange the perfect gift – a family trip to Fort Lauderdale to cheer her on.
It’s fitting that one of Marcela’s daughters pushed her to try the senior games in their home state of Michigan after seeing an ad in a local magazine. Marcela competed in track and field in high school and college and loved the new challenge, quickly forming friendships with fellow athletes.
All of Marcela’s children, her husband, and other family members, stood proudly in the stands sporting their “Team Marcela” shirts to support Marcela at her National Senior Games debut.
Marcela hopes to add the 5K Power Walk to her competition repertoire at the 2023 National Senior Games in Philadelphia. There’s no doubt Team Marcela will rally around her along the way!